Herewith the annual year in review. As always, thanks to Wikipedia for refreshing my memory about the year's highlights. I trust my friends overseas will again be understanding about my tendency to concentrate on local events.
4: Murder spree, Las Vegas, Nevada: a shooter murders a security officer at the federal courthouse and wounds a marshall before being shot dead. Also: Dubai's Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, opens to the public.
7: Murder spree, St. Louis, Missouri: an employee at the ABB Power plant opens fire, killing three and wounding five before turning the gun on himself.
8-9: Proving once again that Islam is the Religion of Peace, Muslims firebomb four churches in Malaysia over the use by non-Muslims of the word "Allah."
12: Haiti is stricken by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake, followed by numerous powerful aftershocks. The city of Port-au-Prince is devastated. Among the casualties is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince.
13: Pope Benedict meets with and forgives the woman who attacked him at Midnight Mass on Christmas.
17: The 2nd Annual Islamic Solidarity Games, scheduled to be held in Iran in April, are called off because of an argument between the Arab states and Iran over the use of the term "Persian Gulf."
18: Mehmet Ali Ağca, who tried to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1981, is released from prison, thereby making the world a much safer place.
19: Republican Scott Brown wins Teddy Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachussetts.
27: North and South Korea exchange artillery fire near the Northern Limit Line.
30: Several Americans, including some Idahoans, are arrested in Haiti on charges stemming from an alleged attempt to smuggle children out of the country.
Deaths: Mary Daly (radical feminist professor); Miep Gies (hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis); Teddy Pendergrass; Jean Simmons; Ralph McInerny (Catholic philosopher, author of Fr. Dowling mysteries); J.D. Salinger; Zelda Rubinstein (small clairvoyant in Poltergeist movies); Pernell Roberts (Adam Cartwright in Bonanza).
5: Boa Sr, the last member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands, which had survived for 65,000 years, dies. She was approximately 85.
11: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maximum Pipsqueak of Iran, announces that that country is now a nuclear state. Liberals turn over in bed.
12: Murder spree, Huntsville, Alabama: a female shooter at the University of Alabama is taken into custody after killing three and wounding three. Also: a Georgian luger is killed during a training run just before the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
18: A man flying a private airplane deliberately crashed into a building containing IRS offices, killing himself and an IRS manager, and injuring 13 others.
19: Senior Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is assassinated in Dubai.
26: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake strikes off the coast of Japan's Ryukyu Island.
27: A magnitude 8.8 earthquake strikes off the coast of central Chile.
Deaths: Charles Wilson (subject of Charlie Wilson's War); Rep. John Murtha (D.-Penn.); Frances Reid (matriarch on Days of Our Lives); Gen. Alexander Haig; Andrew Koenig (actor, son of Walter Koenig).
1: Hundreds are feared dead in a mammoth landslide in the Ugandan district of Bududa.
4: Mexico City passes a law permitting same-sex "marriages."
7: Muslims attack and murder hundreds of Christian villagers with machetes in Dogo-Nahawa, Nigeria.
11: All hell breaks loose in Boulder, Colorado, when a child is denied enrollment in a Catholic school because her parents are lesbians.
20: Pope Benedict XVI publishes a letter to the Catholics of Ireland, containing scathing denunciations of priest sex abusers and the bishops that failed to deal with them, and announcing a forthcoming apostolic visitation.
26: A South Korean warship explodes and sinks in the Yellow Sea. 58 of the 104 men on board are rescued; the cause is determined to be a North Korean torpedo.
28: Underground water floods part of the Wangjialing coal mine in Shanxi Province, China, trapping 153 miners.
Deaths: Corey Haim; Winston Spencer Churchill (grandson of Sir Winston Churchill); Jaime Escalante (math teacher, subject of Stand and Deliver); Robert Culp; Fess Parker.
9: Justice John Paul Stevens announces his forthcoming retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court.
10: Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and numerous high-level officials of the Polish government perish in a plane crash in Smolensk Oblast, Russia.
14: Nearly 1,200 people are killed and over ten thousand injured in a series of severe earthquakes in Qinghai Province, China.
15: The explosive eruption of an Icelandic volcano with an unpronounceable name interrupts air traffic all over Europe.
19: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects demands that Israel stop building in east Jerusalem.
22: An explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico results in the largest off-shore oil spill in U.S. history.
23: A strict immigration bill is signed into law in Arizona; critics who have never read the law unleash a firestorm of controversy.
25: The British Foreign Office apologizes after Sunday Telegraph publishes the contents of a government document calling for the Pope's forthcoming visit to England to be celebrated by, among other things, releasing a Benedict-brand condom, opening an abortion mill, and "blessing" a same-sex "marriage."
Deaths: John Forsythe; Wilma Mankiller; Benjamin Hooks (former NAACP director); Dixie Carter.
1: Two alert street vendors discover a car bomb in Times Square in New York City; the car bomb is deactivated before it can detonate.
6: The U.K. general election results in a hung parliament, with the Conservative Party winning the most seats but not enough to command an overall majority. As a result of the election, Labour P.M. Gordon Brown will resign, the Queen will invite Conservative leader David Cameron to form a new Government, and the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will form a coalition.
10: Solicitor General Elena Kagan, another leftist, is nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
13: Pope Benedict XVI celebrates an open-air Mass at the shrine of Fatima; half a million pilgrims attend.
22: Jordan Romero, age 13, becomes the youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
28: A confrontation begins between the Israeli navy and a flotilla of protesters allegedly bringing humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip in violation of an Israeli blockade.
Deaths: Dennis Hopper; Gary Coleman; Art Linkletter; Lena Horne; Lynn Redgrave.
2: Killing spree, Cumbria, England: a taxi driver shoots 12 people to death and wounds 25 more before turning the gun on himself. Also: the president of Lombardy offers 4,500 euros to pregnant women not to have abortions.
3: Bishop Luigi Padovese, O.F.M.Cap., vicar apostolic of Anatolia in Turkey, is stabbed to death by his driver, who shouts "Allahu akbar!" during the murder.
16: "Touchdown Jesus," an ugly six-story statue of Jesus in Monroe, Ohio, is struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
19: Killing spree, San Bernardino, California: a man enters a Del Taco restaurant, shoots his stepdaughter and her family, killing her husband and six-year-old son, then turns the gun on himself.
23: After telling Rolling Stone magazine exactly what he thought about senior American officials, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of American forces in Afghanistan, is summoned home and submits his resignation.
29: Iceland legalizes same-sex "marriage."
Deaths: Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W.Va.); Edith Shain (nurse in famous Times Square V-J Day photo); Jimmy Dean; Rue McClanahan; Dorothy DeBorba (one of the early Little Rascals).
1: The 130-foot-tall statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro is unveiled after a four-month restoration.
8: A federal district judge in Massachusetts rules that a federal ban on gay "marriage" is unconstitutional.
9: Pope Benedict appoints Archbishop Velasio de Paolis to head the scandal-ridden Legion of Christ.
11: Colton Harris-Moore, the so-called "Barefoot Bandit," is captured in the Bahamas.
12: Switzerland refuses to extradite the creepy director Roman Polanski for his long-overdue sentencing for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl in 1977.
15: The Vatican releases a document declaring the extreme gravity of the sin of attempting to ordain women.
16: Maria Jepson, female Lutheran bishop, steps down due to her handling of a sex abuse case.
17: The exploration of a shipwreck off the coast of Finland yields drinkable bottles of champagne and beer from the early 19th century.
26: Monsoon rains precipitate massive floods in Pakistan, in which nearly 1,800 people will perish and roughly $43 billion in property will be destroyed.
31: Chelsea Clinton gets married, giving her new husband what may be the most annoying set of in-laws that any bridegroom was ever punished with.
Deaths: Maury Chaykin (A Nero Wolfe Mystery); Daniel Schorr; George Steinbrenner; Ilene Woods (the voice of Cinderella in the Disney movie of the same name).
4: A federal district judge for the Northern District of California strikes down Proposition 8, which banned gay "marriage" in California.
14: Murder spree, Buffalo, New York: four people are killed and four more are wounded at the City Grill bar and restaurant. The shooter escapes.
23: A federal district judge for the District of Columbia temporarily halts federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, after President Obama lifted the restrictions placed on it by President Bush in 2001.
28: Gottfried Cardinal Danneels, former Archbishop of the Belgian Diocese of Mechelen-Brussells, and not known for his conservatism, is revealed to have advised a victim of clerical sex abuse to keep quiet about the abuse until after the retirement of the alleged perpetrator, another bishop.
Deaths: Jack Horkheimer (the Star Gazer, formerly Star Hustler); James J. Kilpatrick; Dan Rostenkowski; Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska); Patricia Neal.
1: Swedish prosecutors re-open rape charges against Julian Assange, the creepy founder of Wikileaks.
4: A 7.1 magnitude earthquake strikes New Zealand's South Island, 25 miles west of Christchurch.
7: The state of New York denies parole to Mark David Chapman, murderer of former Beatle John Lennon. Also: strikes begin in France to protest government plans to raise the age of retirement for public pensions.
9: A natural gas pipeline explodes in a residential neighborhood in San Bruno, California, a suburb of San Francisco, killing eight and destroying 38 homes. Also: murder spree, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: a female shooter kills two and wounds a third at the Kraft cookie plant before being captured. The shooter was an employee who had just been suspended from her job.
11: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the War in Afghanistan.
16: A powerful storm, including a tornado, strikes New York City, killing one and leaving 25,000 residents without power. Also: Pope Benedict begins his visit to the U.K.
19: Pope Benedict beatifies John Cardinal Newman.
23: Convicted murderess Teresa Lewis is executed, the first woman executed in the commonwealth of Virginia since 1912.
28: Murder spree, Boston, Massachusetts: an unknown shooter murders four and wounds a fifth in a residential neighborhood.
29: Astronomers discover an extrasolar planet that may be capable of supporting life revolving around Gliese 581 g, a red dwarf star 20 light years away.
Deaths: Stephen J. Cannell (television producer, The Rockford Files, The A-Team); Joseph Sobran; Tony Curtis; Gloria Stuart (aged Rose in Titanic); Olga C. Nardone (one of the last surviving Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz); Harold Gould.
4: Murder spree, Gainsville, Florida: man with history of mental illness kills his father, then drives through the city of Gainsville, shooting and wounding five people before turning the gun on himself.
6: U.S. Army Green Beret Robert James Miller posthumously receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his acts during the War in Afghanistan.
8: Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Also: Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan in September, is killed during an American rescue attempt.
13: 33 miners who had been trapped underground for 69 days in Chile's Atacama Desert, are rescued alive.
17: Pope Benedict canonizes six new saints, including St. Mary MacKillop, Australia's first saint.
19: Televangelist Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral Ministries files for bankruptcy.
21: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirm that a cholera outbreak has begun in Haiti.
22: Wikileaks publishes secret American military records pertaining to the war in Iraq, purporting to show that American military commanders permitted torture and the killing of civilians in Iraq.
25: A 7.7 magnitude earthquake strikes off the western coast of Sumatra, touching off a tsunami that resulted in hundreds of deaths and thousands rendered homeless.
29: North Korea fires shots over the border at South Korean military units at Kwacheon. Also: packages containing plastic explosives are found on two cargo planes en route to the U.S. from Yemen.
Deaths: James MacArthur (Danno in Hawaii Five-O); James Wall (Mr. Baxter on Captain Kangaroo); Bob Guccione; Tom Bosley; Barbara Billingsley; Simon MacCorkindale; Solomon Burke; Dame Joan Sutherland; Sir Norman Wisdom (Last of the Summer Wine).
1: Muslim terrorists attack Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad, murdering dozens of worshipers, including two priests.
2: U.S. midterm elections: Republicans sweep the House of Representatives and gain seats in the Senate. Uncorrected by experience, the people of California give Jerry Brown a third term in the Governor's Mansion.
3: The city of San Francisco bars McDonald's from giving away toys with unhealthy food.
5: MSNBC suspends ueber-liberal commentator Keith Olbermann for contributing to the campaigns of three Democrat candidates.
16: In a stunning upset, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan is elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
23: North and South Korean forces exchange artillery fire after North Korea fires on Yeonpyeong Island.
24: Former U.S. House majority leader Tom DeLay is convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in relation to the 2002 Texas gubernatorial election.
27: A Somali-born teenager is caught plotting a bomb attack on a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon.
28: The U.S. Navy and the South Korean navy hold exercises west of the Korean Peninsula. Also: Wikileaks begins the release of more than a quarter of a million American diplomatic cables, 40% of which are classified as "confidential" and 6% as "secret."
Deaths: Stephen J. Solarz; Leslie Nielsen; Dino de Laurentiis; Jill Clayburgh.
2: The U.S. House of Representatives votes to censure Charlie Rangel (D.-N.Y.) over an assortment of ethics violations.
6: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange turns himself in to Scotland Yard on a warrant stemming from allegations of sex crimes in Sweden.
10: Mark Madoff, the son of Bernie Madoff, is found dead in his apartment, having apparently committed suicide.
13: A U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Virginia strikes down Obamacare.
15: The mummified head of King Henry IV of France, despoiled during the French Revolution in 1793, is discovered in a private garage.
18: Congress repeals "don't ask, don't tell." The bill will be signed into law on December 22nd.
21: For the first time since 1638, and for only the second time since the birth of Christ, a total lunar eclipse coincides with the winter solstice.
24: Muslim terrorists set off an explosion near the altar of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in
Manila, Mindanao, the Philippines, during Christmas Eve Mass. Several people, including the priest, were injured, and the roof was blown off.
25: Muslim terrorists attack several churches in Nigeria, killing at least 14 people.
28: Israeli archaeologists announce the discovery of 400,000-year-old human teeth in a cave east of Tel Aviv, thus challenging the theory that the human race originated in Africa.
Deaths: Teena Marie; Steve Landesberg (Dietrich on Barney Miller); Captain Beefheart; Blake Edwards; Elizabeth Edwards; Agathe von Trapp (one of the Trapp Family Singers that inspired The Sound of Music).